Related blog post: Fishing for lionfish
Related blog post: Fly fishing blog on fishing Belize
Although Slickrock’s program at Glover’s Reef focuses on sea kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing, and windsurfing vacations, avid fishermen will not be disappointed! Our island is surrounded by a National Marine Reserve, and as a result, the fish populations are the healthiest in Belize (according to the National Fisheries Department). All fishing is catch-and-release only, and sport fishermen will be rewarded with non-stop action! Be sure to see kayak fishing on a separate page.
Related blog post: Video - Snorkeling with our Bonefish school
Related blog post: We have our very own bonefish school
There is no need to hire a guide, you just wade in and fish! The fishing is excellent just off our island; in fact professional fishing guides charging $300/day regularly bring their guests over 35 miles by boat just to fish a few feet from our shore. In the photo above you can see our bonefish school, 1-2000 bonefish just waiting for you!
Most guests focus on fly fishing for bonefish and permit, however those who spincast will pull in more fish.
Our waters abound with jack, barracuda, and snapper which readily take spinners.
See below for how to use your spincasting set up for fly fishing.
Glover’s Reef is a National Marine Reserve and it is catch-and-release only for guests. Sport fishing at Glover’s Reef requires a license. We buy it for you! You can begin to fish right away, no waiting for the ranger.
To find out more about fly fishing in Belize, call (800) 390-5715
We have a resident school of bonefish living right off our beach, so the fly fishing is always good!
Related blog post: Belize permit fishing-Jeff caught our fish!
The fishing at nearby Middle Caye is EXCELLENT. We often paddle down to fish there. All you need is a buddy!
We do not provide fishing tackle, only fishing kayaks, so we are often asked what sport fishermen should bring for the conditions surrounding our island. Our island has a variety of bottom conditions that require different tackle to attract the fish being sought after. There is a deeper bay (6-15’ deep) right off our primary beach, and a large school of bonefish live there. Heavier flies work better in this zone, and we most often use the fishing kayaks to stalk the school in this area.
Wading is very easy on the flats near our shore and more challenging on the reef edge. The west end of the island and prime fishing areas on nearby islands have shallower sand flat zones with turtle grass coverage where solitary bonefish are often found. These tend to be the larger bonefish (cruisers), and a lighter fly works better in these areas. The areas of transition between the turtle grass and sand flats are generally the best areas to find these larger, solitary bonefish. There are also areas on the windward side of the island where you can cast into the surf zone, either into coral reefs or rubble shoals, where jack and snapper, as well as reef fish, are more easily caught.
Bring a lot of lures because they often get caught on coral or lost to big fish. Crazy Charlie flies are by far the most successful flies used to land bonefish in our area, so bring a plentiful supply of both light and heavy flies of this type. Brown Bitters, Snapping Shrimp, Foam crabs, McCrabs, and bring several tippets would be a good selection to round out your collection. Fishermen have had good luck with pinks, whites, browns, and greens, with combinations used depending on the bottom color. There is no single ‘magic’ color or size that will be perfect, it will be necessary to adapt to the conditions and the location you are fishing from at the time. Bring an 8 weight fly rod, 9’ in length, with a marine floating line with 10-15 lb leaders. For a reel use any saltwater compatible with plenty of backing (200+ feet.) Also, remember to bring polarized sunglasses and ankle high booties for wading (many stinging hydroids and occasional urchins hide in the sea grass).
Be sure to read Randall Kaufman’s "Bonefishing With a Fly", especially chapters on retrieve, hooking and landing.
We do see quite a few permit in the surf zone and shoals off the point of our island. These fish are notoriously skittish and very hard to get close enough to for casting. They are not a seasonal fish so anytime is right to find them, although they are not present everyday and one should never count on finding them on any particular week. Permit spook easily and are very particular about what they strike, so finding the right crab pattern for your fly is difficult. Have a tan, green, and brown pattern available. Fishermen can wade into these zones to get close to the fish, wading in right off the island’s shore.
Overall, the fishing at Long Caye is more about spotting fish, figuring out their feeding patterns, and exploring terrain. Of course good presentation and casting action is important, but the actual fly used is probably less important than these other aspects. You’ve got to find the fish first, and there is a lot of terrain to explore. Some days will be exemplary, some days you’ll get skunked, and as we all know luck is the primary factor in a successful fishing outing! If you’re coming to Belize specifically to find a prize winning permit, for instance, our advice would be to go to a fishing lodge and hire a professional guide who will take you right to the fish you end up catching, at a cost of $350/day. If you want to explore and improve your skills in spotting fish without a lot of other fishermen around, our place is perfect for you.
For even more discussion about Belize bonefishing visit the Ambergriscaye.com fishing page.
We really don't get any fishermen who use our kayaks for trolling outside the reef. There are a few reasons for this. Our fishermen all fly fish or spin cast either by wading in, fishing from the dock, or fishing in the shallows from an anchored fishing kayak. One reason is that no one should use the kayaks without a buddy (another person in a 2nd kayak, joining you) unless they are right near the island. The area outside the atoll often is too rough to kayak at at all, with or without a guide. Occassionally conditions can permit you to fish outside if a guide accompanies you, but not without a guide. Since our guides are guiding everyone, not just the two fishermen, there may not be many or any times you could actually go outside during a week on the island. This would depend on the weather and the size of the group. Obviously if there were only 4 or 6 people on the trip the guide would have a lot more time to join you outside than if there were 20. We can't predict in advance how many people might sign up for the trip date you choose. It is possible, however, to troll inside the atoll on a much more regular basis. The fish you could catch inside (where it is much much more calm) are: amber jack, barracuda, permit, bonefish, snapper, tarpon, horse eyed jacks and yellow tail jacks.
"I could see a dark mass thirty feet from shore in about four feet of water. Elmo said 'there they are' and it was only then I realized I wasn't looking at weed. I was seeing 300 bonefish schooling in the incoming tidal flat pools at the edge of Glover's Reef. Later when I put on my snorkel and mask, I had the thrill of watching these sleek, chrome-green fish splinter and ricochet past me within arms length. They regrouped and slid across the flats, seeking the food that the tide would bring.
I tried for three days to outwit these fish. I only managed it once, but that one time was a highlight for me in a week that was close to perfect. I loved the snorkeling and the tide pools the folks at Slickrock showed me, but that moment alone when my fly hit the water and a bonefish detonated at the surface... it was magical! I thought about it all the while I was kayaking throughout the week, and I still think about it today. Thanks Slickrock."
Kevin Jackson, Rimbey, Alberta, Canada
Adventure Island at Glover's Reef, February 2004
You can use your spin-casting equipment for fly fishing... here's how to do it. If you are using a collapsible spin-casting rod you will need a clear float bobber that you fill with water. This gives the line weight and gives you the ability to do longer casts with a short pole. After the bobber you attach a swivel which stops the bobber from traveling down the line toward the fly. After the swivel you tie on a tippet, then the fly. A 7-foot tippet is best. With this set-up the fly sinks to the bottom, and with a Crazy Charlie, it looks like a shrimp. Bonefish don't go for lures, only flies.
Bruce White, Ortonville, MI
Adventure Island at Glover's Reef, December, 2007
All photos of the author fishing off Long Caye by Sandy White
I've been an avid fly fisherman for more than 50 years, tying all of my own flies and building some of my own rods. In many fishing articles I've read that die-hard fishermen like myself are searching world-wide to hook and land bonefish. A few of the lucky ones get a few, mostly in the 2-5 pound range.
On Long Caye in two days I hooked five and landed four, all on flies I made. It took a half hour to land the last one and 20 minutes for the other three. All five bonefish took out all 90 yards of my fly line plus backing on their 3-5, 100-140 yard, 4-5 second runs.
If they didn't turn at the end of those screaming runs, you'd never stop them. All four I landed were too large to lift up onto the dock, so I was forced to beach them. The last one, being over 27" long, was so big I couldn't get both my hands around it. I was forced to straddle it between my knees and hold it by a gill plate to carefully remove the fly.
Pound for pound no fish in fresh or saltwater comes close to the fun of landing a bonefish. They have great heart and are relentless. Cully was standing next to me as I was beaching the first one I hooked. He ran to get a camera. Suddenly the bonefish took off again for about 100 yards into deep water. Then nothing. I brought the line back to find only a head and gill covers on my hook. Almost the entire body had been severed clean by a 4-1/2 to 5 foot long barracuda that Cully said had been hanging out in the lagoon recently. Guess what-- two fish later the exact same thing happened again. I retrieved a head with no body. Cully couldn't believe it.
Those four days of fishing were the best I've spent anywhere. One of the greatest things was that I never needed any kind of boat. All fishing was done from the dock, shallow wading or from the beach which was only 200 steps from our cabana. I caught probably 10 to 12 different species in the four days I fished. I caught 27 fish in the last two hours of the final afternoon alone. I had a fish on almost every cast. All wonderful fighters, including one huge bar jack that almost equaled the bonefish. What a trip!
I didn't get a chance to experience the new fishing kayaks, but they certainly promise a much greater range to the already great fishing at Slickrock.
Read about our newest sport: kayak fishing!
Matt Waldo, Brooklyn NY
Adventure Island at Glover's Reef, February 2004 and April 2006
Last winter, my wife and I decided to go to Belize again for our vacation. Unlike the last few times we decided to sign on with the Slickrock outfitters and travel to Glover’s Reef. We knew we would be kayaking, snorkeling, and doing other sea sport activities to our hearts content.
On our other trips we had seen many tourists carrying really expensive looking fishing poles, sheathed in multicolored gear tins as carry-on luggage. Also, I had met fishing enthusiasts who spoke rhapsodically about bonefish fishing and deep sea fishing in Belize. I concluded that Belize is a “primo” fishing spot that should be tried as a life experience even if I only had a mild interest. So, with a New York January winter raging outside my Brooklyn apartment, I decided that by the time I traveled to Belize in February I would be outfitted and knowledgeable enough to fish the mythic Belizean waters.
However, before I got into this effort, I wanted to impose some rigorous parameters to this fun/sport effort. Because I am sort of a “gear head” (kayaking, snorkeling, cycling, hiking… you get the picture) I did not want to buy a lot more stuff. Apartment storage is already impossible. First rule: I would not buy to the high tech side of the fishing gear spectrum and I would be budget conscious (cheap) for once. Secondly, I wanted to avoid becoming “expert” at another activity: you know the type… I wanted to avoid being able to quote “High Tech Fishing Today Magazine” about titanium blah, blah, blah… In New York there is pressure to know a lot about everything you’ve become an enthusiast about. I decided my goal was to remain relatively stupid about fishing: the “babe in the woods” approach. Thirdly, I like fish in general and did not want to kill many of them. The behavior of fishing, standing knee deep in warm, aquamarine water in the middle of a tropically heaven casting lures while working on an even tan, this appealed to me. The act of fishing that is about “killing” fish wasn’t exactly my cup of brine. Lucky for me, Glover’s Reef is a catch and release site.
I like books and am a firm believer in the adage “If you can read, you can cook”. I decided to teach myself to fish from reading books in my apartment, after work and the dishes. After some in-store reading to sample what was available at the local Barnes and Noble, I bought the following two books: the KISS Guide to Fishing (stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”) by Robert Roth and North American Fishing, by Ken Schultz. From them I learned that I was probably interested in spin casting: the reels look very cool and the process is very low tech. Fly fishing is a little fussy, lending itself to that expert syndrome again, and the effort with the deep sea gear strikes me as some kind of over-kill extravaganza (you remember the stuff in “Jaws”?).
After more reading I came to the conclusion that I could fish in Belize with a light to medium weight spin casting reel, a light weight spin casting rod which broke down to a some of parts in a tidy way, some 8 to 12 pound test mono filament line and a variety of lures. My actual outfit included a Shakespear brand, “Tidewater” model reel for approx. $50, a nine foot “Ugly Stick” rod which broke down to lengths of 20-24 inches for another $50 (fits in a duffle), 250 yards of ten pound test line (clear) for $7., and some lures. If you ‘re determined to follow a budget (cheap), watch out in the lures department! I unfortunately tend to buy lures that I find attractive, not because they are tried and true fish killers. Lucky for me form and function came together in chrome and/or gold “jigs”. From experience, I would say to bring at least five of each of your favorites, varying the size from one to three inches. Expect to spend at least $75. on lures: ones you like, ones you’ve read that the fish like, and the ones that your sales person needs to sell some of. Other stuff to think about absently: swivels, leaders, a variety of rubber painted minnows (you won’t believe it), a nifty box to store all this cool stuff in. A knife is a valuable piece of equipment in case you have to cut line, but it isn’t necessary to have a BIG knife. More importantly, fishermen’s pliers are helpful for extracting your hooks from the fish with the least amount of harm to you both.
Please realize that you can spend much more on better and more complicated fishing equipment. I made my choices based on a low impact to pocket and storage basis. I also caught a number of fish with a minimal investment. And you should have seen the ones that got away!
A humanitarian note: there is no need to “super set” the hook when a fish has your lure. Unless you are a dentist who misses his oral surgery appointments, an exaggerated jerking of the rod to drive your hook deep into the fish’s mouth isn’t really necessary, especially in a catch and release environment. So what if the fish gets away! After the five minutes of intense play you’ve just had, you should give thanks and gratitude for the experience of having shared a life’s joy with an aquatic life form.
Some fun stuff: don’t be surprised if while you’re bringing in a good sized snapper or jack, pole bending under the strain while you squint into the light like Spencer Tracy in the “Old Man and the Sea”, that a large barracuda doesn’t just bite the fish in half. Though I brought in fish heads twice, I really love telling the stories.
Belize sun light while fishing: If you wade a lot, remember your sun screen will begin to come off, no matter what the claim at purchase. The sun is always intense, but while fishing there is real possibility of burning. So, work on your even tan, but be careful about parts exposed for too long or that have been wet for a long period. Hats and sun glasses are a must. A very lightweight shirt with collar and sleeves is helpful to protect neck and arms.
The really fine points of casting won’t be worked out in your apartment, and I haven’t really tried hard to master them anyway. Hopefully you will benefit from some of my not-expert advice about fishing in Belize and have fun working on your even tan. Remember to be respectful when asking the fish to take your lure.